Skip to Main Content

Locating Library Materials Pre-1950

A guide on how to locate pre-1950 materials in our library.

About This Guide

This guide serves as a tutorial on locating older materials in our library.  It specifically focuses on materials that were published before 1950, which can be more difficult to retrieve due to their age, fragility, or lack of availability.  This guide contains the following:


An overview of the relationship between older materials, digitization, and how it benefits users when searching for older materials.

A tutorial on how to search for older books held at Pfeiffer Library or at other institutions.

A step-by-step guide on locating older materials in DragonQuest.

How to search for older materials in our EBSCOhost databases.

How to search for older materials using our A-Z database list or the Pfeiffer Library Catalog.

Lists other free resources that contain pre-1950 materials that are not part of the A-Z database list.

Outside sources that helped create this guide.

Additional resources for extra assistance.


Older Materials and Digitization

For the purpose of this guide, older materials are print or nonprint items held in the library that were published before 1950.  Due to age, older materials tend to be much more fragile and susceptible to damage than other items.  Librarians and archivists have also developed new ways to better preserve materials, so some older materials may not have been treated well over time.  Because of the fragility and rarity of older materials, they are sometimes more difficult to find.  Since the 1990s, libraries have increased their digitization efforts significantly, making older materials much more accessible to users.  When it comes to digitization, libraries prioritize materials that are in danger of being lost in the future, such as manuscripts, photographs, live musical recordings, and theses (Quan Liu, 2004).  The primary goal of digitizing older materials is to make them more accessible to users.  It aims to eliminate the barriers created by the original versions, especially if they are fragile and cannot be circulated regularly (Quan Liu, 2004).  When searching for older materials at Pfeiffer Library, you will likely encounter digitized versions of original materials.  However, they are considered primary sources if they are direct copies of the original document.  For these reasons, older materials are still an excellent source of information because they come directly from the time period in which they were published.  Depending on the type of source you are looking for, there are several databases and free resources available to you that store older materials.

Rate this guide!